Our patient, Lindsey Hein, winner of the 2014 Women’s Running Cover Model contest, was nice enough to take time out of her busy schedule to share her story with us:

Can you share a little of your story with us, in regard to the BRCA2 gene mutation and the choices you were forced to make?

My Grandmother had breast cancer in her forties, survived and twenty years later was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Once she had the ovarian cancer diagnosis, she was tested for the BRCA2 gene mutation and found out she was positive. The BRCA2 gene mutation puts you at an 86% risk of breast cancer and 27% risk of ovarian cancer. My mom found out she was positive five years ago and immediately underwent preventative surgery —  prophylactic double mastectomy and a hysterectomy.

We have since found out that many other women in my family have the mutation, including myself. If one of your parents has the mutation, you are at a 50% risk of carrying it as well. I put off having the test done for three years after my mom found out she was positive. I was fearful that I was and deep down was scared about having the surgery.

I decided to take the test to find out if I was positive when my son Marshall turned one. We were wanting to have more children, but I felt that it was important to face this fear first. I found out I was positive while I was training for my first half ironman. I remember very clearly swimming laps (something new and intimidating to me!) and clearing my mind and feeling strong about what I might find out.

By sharing your story with others, what is the most important thing you hope they will take from it?

My biggest hope is that my story will encourage someone to face their fears and be proactive. It is easy to let fear cloud your vision, when really the more you know, the more power you have to make sound decisions that can positively effect your life.

What do you think is the most important piece of advice for someone who isn’t into running, but wants to start? How would you advise them to start the training process?

The biggest piece of advice I have for someone who wants to start running is start slow and make short term goals. If you don’t run at all, it is wise to start with a run/walk and slowly build, starting with something along the lines of run 1 minute, walk 2 minutes for 15 minutes. It’s important that you don’t add too much; to avoid injury never add more than 10% to your current weekly mileage. I also encourage every runner to be proactive with post run stretching and don’t ignore basic strength training. Push ups for everyone!

How do you keep people motivated to continue their training? Was there ever a time when you were unmotivated and if so how did you overcome it?

I try to encourage people to think about the end result. Focus on what your hard work is for — what is your ultimate goal? Everyone has a different answer to this question. It could simply be that you want to get healthy and feel good, or it could be that you want to run a Boston Qualifying marathon time. While it’s important to take it one day at a time, I think it’s important to imagine what you want your end result to be and dream on that.

What would you say your most enriching experience as a running coach has been? Why?

The most enriching experience as a coach is definitely seeing athletes achieve big goals and being a small part of that. As the coach, I’m prescribing workouts and giving advice but ultimately it is up to the athlete to execute and put the work in. You can give someone all the tools they need to have a strong season and hit their goal race, but they have to put the work in and the mental game is on them on race day and it’s so fun to see athletes stay tough and do what they set out to do, because you know they are capable!

Would you please explain a typical day and include what you do for exercise, meals, family time and anything else you do on a regular basis?

My typical day starts with a little work before my son Marshall wakes up — once he’s up, we usually hit the gym, head home, he naps, I work some more and we usually head out for the Children’s Museum, errands or anything else I can think of to get us out of the house for some of the afternoon. He goes to pre-school on Tuesdays and Thursdays now for 5 hours, so I have that time to work and get things done.

I’m 8 months pregnant now, so my exercise schedule mostly just consists of easy workouts 4 days a week and staying active on the other days. When I’m not pregnant, I always have a goal race to train for and use that as my motivation to work hard. While I like accomplishing big goals, the biggest reason I stay up on working out and running hard is because it makes me a happier, nicer person. I use the endorphins as my natural anti-depressant and they work.

Because nutrition is such a big part of training do you recommend any type of diet for those that run and are training for marathons? Should you eat this type of way all the time or just leading up to race days?

I really think keeping nutrition simple is where it’s at. Make sure you are eating plenty of vegetables and choose real food over processed foods. I’m personally a vegetarian, but I don’t think that’s for everyone. The best piece of advice you can give someone days leading up to a big race is don’t change anything, stick to what you are used to. No new foods. When we talk about carb loading days leading up to a race, this would mostly be for longer distance races like marathons and even when you do that, you want to make sure you aren’t increasing your calorie intake, just replacing some of the protein and fat with carbohydrates.

And finally, how does it feel to be on the cover of Women’s Running Magazine?

It was a fun experience to do the Women’s Running Cover shoot and I was honored to be on the magazine. Most importantly I was thankful to Women’s Running and Saucony for giving me the platform and opportunity to share my story and hopefully encourage someone else to be brave and face their fears.

Related: Out for a Run

About Integrated Health Solutions

Dr. Charbel Harb is a licensed chiropractic physician and the Medical Director of Integrated Health Solutions. Our core belief is that each patient who walks through the doors is a person, not just a medical record or chart. Our greatest pleasure is bringing joy to our patients and helping them to fully embrace life, allowing them to enjoy each day: active, healthy and pain free.